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Irrigation Systems and Financial Plans

A few weeks ago, Jen left for the weekend which meant that I was solely responsible for keeping 4 kids alive and happy for 3 days. I am normally able to handle this without too much trouble as we simply visit all our favorite fast food restaurants and watch Disney movies on the couch. 

This all changed when Jen’s parents called and asked me to help them install an irrigation system. Those of you who know me well are aware that I am not capable of hanging pictures in my own home so installing an irrigation system should be way out of my league. While that would make sense, installing an irrigation system is about the only building related activity that I am qualified for. 

I have had an interest in yard work since I was a small kid. I started a lawn mowing business by 4th grade and would mow multiple lawns per week all summer long through high school. As I entered college I realized that I needed a full-time job and a landscaping company seemed like a natural fit. It took me about 2 hours to realize that my job would involve becoming good friends with an old shovel. I basically dug holes and trenches for 10+ hours a day all summer long during college.   

I agreed to help Jen’s parents with this weekend task and tossed all 4 kids in the minivan, put the Cars movie in the DVD player and drove to Michigan to help. I was not sure about a weekend of hard labor, but the challenge was exciting, and the kids were excited to see the grandparents. 

I ordered the materials online and watched a few YouTube videos about how things are easier now than in the 1990’s. After the FedEx truck arrived Friday afternoon, my father-in-law and I got to work. 

I soon realized how similar the design of a irrigation system is to effective financial planning. The first thing we did was map out a rough plan of the yard for water and material efficiently. This is like how we start with the big picture in finance planning. We want to know what goals you might have. It could be retirement income, college expenses or helping care for an aging family member.  As we looked at the plan it became apparent that some areas of the yard will need more water based on sunlight and landscaping and we needed to design accordingly. In financial planning we work to address possible risks like not being able to work or needing long term care in the future. We also thought about the possibility of leaks and other potential problems. In our financial planning process this is similar to how we address unexpected events like changes in income, higher college costs or significant unplanned expenses.

The purpose of every irrigation system is obvious, water the grass. The grass getting watered is most important when you leave for summer vacation and it will be sunny and 95 degrees while you are gone for 10 days.  The purpose of money is much more complex and different for everyone. Our role is to provide you financial guidance based on established wisdom and principles. We will start with mapping out a rough plan and then focus on specific areas as needed. This advice can be beneficial regardless of how the market is performing or what the economic conditions are like.   

In case you are wondering…the irrigation system works, we had a few small leaks, the kids had a blast at the Grandparents, I was given a big steak for dinner and I came home very tired. We were ready for mom to come home. Enjoy the pictures.

Proof of young Eric's love of landscaping:

Unloading the equipment:

Eric at work:

It works!